What was the only thing more popular than Channing Tatum in a thong this weekend? A pot-smoking teddy bear, apparently. Both of this weekend's R-rated releases — Ted, the gleefully vulgar comedy about a grown man who's childhood teddy bear has become a foul-mouthed horndog — and Magic Mike — about a troupe of Florida male strippers — surpassed industry expectations at the box office. Ted won the weekend with $54 million, followed by Magic Mike with a similarly impressive $39 million; it's the first weekend ever that two R-rated films grossed more than $21 million each. It wasn't all raunch this weekend, though: Kiddie fare like Brave and Madagascar 3 continued to perform well. Here are the five major talking points from this weekend's unexpectedly stellar box office:
1. Ted broke records
The $54.1 million debut for Ted — which Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane wrote and directed, and for which he provided the voice of the crass titular bear — was the third-best opening ever for an R-rated comedy (The Hangover Part II and Sex and the City beat it), and the best for an original comedy script. How did it surpass its predicted $35 million gross by such a large margin? People knew exactly what they were getting, says Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. Family Guy has a loyal fanbase, and "the marketing campaign did a great job of telling people how fabulous this picture is for an R-rated audience." Recent R-rated hits with lower opening grosses — 21 Jump Street, Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher — each crossed the $100 million mark, says Grady Smith at Entertainment Weekly. Ted could surpass $200 million.
2. Magic Mike was an "event" film
Pundits were skeptical at first that audiences would turn out for the unabashed skin-baring in Magic Mike, says Smith, but after a shrewd marketing campaign previewed the likes of Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, and Alex Pettyfer flaunting their chiseled physiques, "Mike quickly snowballed into a Sex and the City-type release and became a must-see 'event' for groups of women in the mood for something other than Fifty Shades of Grey." Women made up 73 percent of Magic Mike's audience.
3. Channing Tatum is officially a box-office star
The surprise success of Magic Mike confirms Channing Tatum's "rising star status," says Pamela McClintock at The Hollywood Reporter. The box-office win continues the actor's hot streak: His two most recent releases, The Vow and 21 Jump Street, grossed $125 million and $138 million, respectively. "No actor in Hollywood has a higher stock than [Tatum] right now," says Smith.
4. Tyler Perry is as reliable as ever
Madea's Witness Protection, the seventh to feature Perry's cross-dressing grandma character, marked the actor-director's fourth-highest debut ever with $26.4 million, even improving on the last Madea film, Madea's Happy Family. Part of that boost over Perry's last film could be owed to Witness Protection's more ethnically diverse cast, which included white actors Denise Richards and Eugene Levy, says Amy Kaufman at the Los Angeles Times.
5. It's hot out, so people are going to theaters
Both Brave and Madagascar 3 continued their impressive runs with family audiences, with Brave finishing out its second week with $131 million banked since its June 22 release, and Madagascar boosting its overall haul to $180 million. With those stellar grosses and the better-than-anticipated numbers for Ted, Magic Mike, and Madea's Witness Protection, "movie-going just seems to be in the air," says David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate. The reason: The 100-degree heat throughout much of the country. "People don't want to be outside in a heat wave, so it's one of those weekends [that] benefitted from the weather."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
Subscribe to the Week